YORK, PA – The York College men's basketball team suffered a hard-to-swallow 66-62 loss to Messiah College in a non-conference contest Tuesday night in Wolf Gymnasium. The Spartans fall to 3-1 as, for the second straight year, their first loss is to the Falcons. Messiah improves to 3-1 overall with the victory.
The Spartans got off to a strong start as they led by seven points at 16-9 just over five minutes into the game. The Spartans maintained their lead between five and seven points over the next eight minutes before the Falcons fashioned a game-changing 19-0 run that covered just under five minutes. Jeremiah Runkle started the run with a lay up at the 7:33 mark and the spurt was capped by three consecutive Falcon three pointers as the seven point Falcon deficit went to a 12 point lead with 2:46 left in the half. The Spartans scored five of the final seven points of the half as they headed to the locker room with a deficit for the first time this year at 39-30.
The Falcons were sizzling in the opening 20 minutes of play. Messiah shot 65.4% (17-of-26) from the field including 5-for-7 (71.4%) from three. The Falcons also held a commanding 15-9 advantage on the glass. Their shooting and rebounding made up for the 10 turnovers in the opening half.
The Spartans came out of the break and starting chipping away at the Falcon lead. The Green and White began the half with an 11-3 march that trimmed the Falcon lead to one at 42-41 with 12:58 left in the game. The Falcons countered the Spartan run with a 12-2 run of their own as they expanded the lead to 11 at 54-43 with 7:39 left.
Much to the Spartan credit, they kept working their way back into the game, refusing to give up as they cut the Falcon lead to four with 1:03 left but Paul Kouvaris could not complete the traditional three point play after hitting a lay up and getting fouled. The Spartans would then be forced to foul and the Falcons would hit three of four from the line in the final 16 seconds to secure the victory.
Runkle led the Falcons as the forward had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the double-double. He was 5-for-8 from the floor while he also had two blocked shots and a pair of steals. Chris Yoder tossed in a game-high 18 points for the Falcons as he was 6-for-7 from the floor, 2-for-2 from three, and 4-for-5 from the free throw line. David Fernandez as the third Falcon in double figures as he recorded 10 first half points for Messiah.
Hoffman led York as he was 5-for-8 from the floor including 2-for-3 from three. He also sunk all three of his free throws. Hoffman also had four rebounds and two assists in his 26 minutes of work. Watson contributed 13 points, a career-high six steals, two rebounds and three assists in his 33 minutes of work. Senior Kevin Whaley added nine points and five assists while Kouvaris had eight points and a team-high six rebounds.
The Falcons ended up shooting 59% for the game including 55.6% from three while the Spartans shot a season-worst 37.7% from the floor including 31.3% from three. York shot 65.4% (17-for-26) from the free throw line while Messiah was 15-for-24 (62.5%). Unfortunately for York, the Spartans were 0-for-3 at the line inside the final two minutes of the game while Messiah converted three of their final four attempts for the game.
The Spartans forced a season-high 28 turnovers and they converted those Falcon miscues into 22 points. The Falcons held a significant 32-20 edge in points in the paint while Messiah received 35 points off the bench compared to just 10 for the Spartans.
York returns to action on Sunday when they travel to Gettysburg to face the Bullets in their traditional early season match up. Tip time from Bream Gymnasium is set for 4:00 pm.
Dylan Hoffman photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgefoto.com)